Former Vineyard CEO submits rival board nominees

     Vineyard National Bancorp’s former CEO led the financial institution through risky waters from 2005 to 2007 as it made shaky loans to home developers, but now the ousted executive stated he wants to nominate a new board who can transform the bank into a business and commercial lender.
     On Monday evening, Norman Morales, along with investor Jon Salmanson, submitted a proposed slate for the board of directors in opposition to Vineyard’s proposed slate that was filed last week. Morales has nominated himself.
     After being forced to resign in January, the ex-CEO is vying for control over the holding company, which is parent company of Vineyard Bank.
     Morales’s nominees are steeped in commercial lending experience, according to a Securities Exchange Commission document he filed on Monday.
     Vineyard was designated as a financially “troubled condition” in May by the Federal Reserve Board and Office of Comptroller of the Currency in Washington, D.C. Any board-of-director candidate nominations will have to pass approval by those regulatory agencies.
     Vineyard reported a loss of $13.3 million in its first quarter and also said it has $142 million in “substandard loans” from 2007 on its books.
     Shareholders will vote on the nominees at the annual meeting on Aug. 5.
Besides himself, Morales is asking shareholders to approve Thomas Koss II, Douglas Kratz, Cynthia Harriss, Harice “Dev” Ogle, Lester Strong and Glen Terry as board members.
     Through investor group One Investments LLC, Kratz bought almost 10 percent of Vineyard’s stock in late June for about $6.3 million. Morales and Salmanson joined Kratz in the $6.3 million stock purchase.
     Vineyard is asking shareholders to approve Frank Alvarez, David Buxbaum, Charles Keagle, James LeSieur, Robb Quincey, Joel Ravitz and J. Steven Roush as board members.
     –matthew.wrye@inlandnewspapers.com

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